Paximadia are two small uninhabited islands in the Gulf of Mesara in the Libyan Sea. They are located off the southern coast of Crete approximately 12 km (7 mi) south of Agia Galini. The two islands appear to be one from a distance, but they are actually two, separated by a narrow strip of sea called Bogazi. The Megalo (Big) and Mikro (Small) Paximadi have a total length of about 3km and host some magnificent pebble beaches with crystal-clear blue water. Mikro Paximadi has four such beaches and Megalo Paximadi a fabulous beach, called Varkaki which extends to the very surreal cape of Sakouleva. Megalo Paximadi is an incredibly wild place with spectacular and full of otherworldly colors vertical cliffs. The majestic scenery continues to the cave of Tzigounas, the largest of many on Paximadia.
In ancient Crete the islands were known as Dionysioi after the god of wine, Dionysus and also as Letoai after the goddess Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis, who was worshipped in Phaistos. Nowdays, the two rocky islands are called Paximadia because their shape resembles to a traditional rusk, known as Paximadi. However, locals call the islands Elephantaki because of the sweet illusion of an elephant with its trunk pointing north out in the bay. The islands can be accessed by excursion boats, running from Kokkinos Pirgos and Agia Galini. The trip there is absolutely worth, as you can relax at the beach, swim, snorkel or dive in the clear water of the Mediterranean Sea and if you are lucky, you may see some dolphins too.